Modernity is anonymizing, atomizing, patricidal. It involves a vast uprooting from land and community, an unmooring from all the coordinates that used to sustain a sense of orientation and self-worth. The modern fetishization of identity is an attempt to replace by self-nomination what used to be assigned by fate, caste and tradition. It is a poor replacement, as evidenced by the violence with which these synthetic identities need to be continuously asserted.
While it is fashionable to equate contemporary identitarianism with a renewal of tribalism, the analogy does not bear examination. In the tribal unit, identity is bestowed by the tribe and marked by rituals that firmly establish the subjugation of the individual to the larger entity. In contrast, self-declared, voluntary identities are narcissistic declarations of exemption from both reality and social obligation. Nothing could be more removed from the spirit of tribalism and its reverence for tradition and ancestral authority than the glorification of childish identities cobbled together from self-aggrandizing phantasms.
Rather than a “regression” to tribalism, identitarianism symptomizes in the form of mass psychosis the advance of the social disintegration inaugurated by modernity.
An authentic traditionalist has to be willing to accept that tradition is in modern terms indefensible. The modern mind is a stunted apparatus that can only acknowledge and comprehend what is measurable. The eternal verities transmitted by tradition will not fit into the confines of this apparatus and would only be nullified by any attempt to force them into it.
In the same way that tradition is rationally indefensible, modernity and its abominations are rationally irrefutable since today reason has at its disposal only the vocabulary of utilitarianism. It is, for instance, pointless to look to genetics to disprove the pernicious doctrine of the social construction of “identity” because that doctrine is itself but one expression of the instrumental outlook upon which modern science is founded. After all, it is science itself that provides the surgical and pharmacological means to alter gender and, beyond that, the means to artificialize the human organism at the cellular level. These means today are glorified as “empowering,” as demonstrating our overcoming of the harsh cultural boundaries that hedged in our benighted ancestors. But what they actually indicate is the toxicity of modern science, whose effect is to render us ever more artificial and, therefore, ever more fragile. Thus, what we misconstrue as empowerment is actually the enlargement of our susceptibility to extinction.
Faith in tradition seeks no modern validation because it is fully cognizant of modernity’s evanescence. The freak menagerie assembled by modernity is not a harbinger of the future but an indication that modernity has no future. What will refute modernity will be its own perishing. Indeed, is modernity anything but a perishing?
Racism seems to have a lot to do with the need of modern European nation states to justify colonialism on moral grounds. This is a justification that premodern peoples, innocent of the peculiar notion of human rights, did not require. In the premodern world, conquest and subjugation were outcomes ordained by the gods.
It was humanism, and particularly secular humanism, that laid the basis for racism. The bestowal of rights on humans as a species forbids one group from subjugating another. In practice, this meant that technologically advanced European nations could only take advantage of their military superiority and acquire colonies on the presumption that the peoples they subjugated were not quite human and therefore not entitled to the same rights as Europeans, at least not until these putative primitives were properly civilized.
Today’s sanctimonious, antiracist “identity” politics remains locked in the same humanist frame, only with the terms inverted. Now the subhuman stigma is attached to “whites” in general and white males in particular. Thus, in its late form, humanism develops into a suicidal ideology. Perhaps this is the only way that its pernicious influence can be overcome.
I dismiss any and all statements prefixed by a declaration of “identity,”
When you tell me that you are speaking “as a woman” or “as a feminist” or as “as a gay man” or “as a person of color” or as a member of some other fashionable victim class, all you are revealing is the narcissistic conceit in which you are encased and which constitutes your mental prison. So what you’re telling me, effectively, is that you are a robotic bore with whom any attempt at conversation is a waste of time since you are only capable of ideological commonplaces. In addition, you are alerting me to the fact that your sole interest in any exchange is to browbeat your interlocutors with your assumed moral superiority.
The idea that identity grants intellectual authority (or, if it is the wrong identity, intellectual invalidation) is the grossest possible debasement of discourse. Yet it appears to be the currently dominant mode of academic discourse. Which means that a liberal education these days is an expensive way to learn how not to think.